Tell Me About... Viruses and Worms - Part 3

Readh part 3 of this informative 3-part series on viruse and worms.
Published: Jun 1, 2006
Author: Michael E, Callahan
Related OS: Windows

Computer Viruses and Worms - Part 3

by Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder

This question submitted by Lisa Newman, Donna Zander, Bill Thompson,Alex Picard, Kate Cummings, Alton George, and numerous others

In this last part of our 3-part series on viruses and worms I want todiscuss what I call the "Non-virus virus". Others call it a hoaxvirus, but I think my term is more descriptive. Lets start out talkingabout his one in a kind of scenario.

You get an email from a trusted friend or associate telling you thatthere's this terrible virus going around. Your friend asks you to notifyall the people in your address book and warn them. And that'swhat he's doing for you. What a great friend huh? And you're being agood friend too by telling all your friends about this hideous virus.

I've seen these emails. My wife gets them and shows them to me. Myfriends know that I don't like FORWARDED junk, so I don't tend toget my own. I look at these emails and often they've gone out tohundreds and hundreds of people. And this is just the email my wifereceived. Multiply that by millions and millions of users who havemillions and millions of friends and just think what a great alarmnetwork that is.


In these cases, the emails are the so-called "virus." There is noactual virus infection. Instead, what the pranksters have done is slowdown the Internet, clog up mail servers, and flood everyone with a bunchof garbage email. And you helped. And so did your friends.

Something to keep in mind is that if there is a terrible virus orworm or Trojan horse being spread around, it'll normally be in the news.You'll see it mentioned at ABC, CNN, MSNBC, and other news sites. Youmay also get a notice from the maker of your anti-virus software tellingyou to update. I use McAfee VirusScan and I know I get an announcementwhen there's a serious worm being spread around. If you get an emailfrom your friends warning you, go to a news site or the site of thecompany that makes your anti-virus software. Then you'll know for sureif the threat is real.

Something similar happens when you get emails, again from trusted friendsor family, saying to send this email to 20 people in order to accomplisha certain goal. All you really accomplish is gumming up the Internet and the email inboxes of all your friends.

Earlier I mentioned that I don't like emails that are forwarded.Let me clarify that. There are times when in the course of doingbusiness online where I have to forward an email to a colleague orfriend. That's a relatively common-place activity. What I'm talkingabout are these garbage notes that spread like a bad case of acne. I sawone my wife got last week from some "friends", telling how Bill Gateswas going to give out $200 or so for every person you got to do acertain thing. Mr. Gates is an amazingly generous man, and he'scertainly not an idiot. Do you really think he's going to do that?Really? Come on people, remember the old adage, "If it sounds toogood to be true, it probably is!"

So, sometimes we become the virus by sending so many emails that we clogup the Internet, our friends, and ourselves. This is the Non-virusvirus and in some ways it can be more irritating that some realviruses.

This concludes Part 3 of this 3-part series on viruses and worms. I hopeyou've found it interesting and informative. Here are a few things toremember:

  • Have anti-virus software on your computer
  • Keep your virus software up-to-date!
  • Run software to check for Spyware and Adware
  • Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is
  • Sometimes you are the virus when you send bulk emails

I'd like to thank Lisa Newman, Donna Zander, Bill Thompson, andnumerous others for asking this question.

If you have a question on any technology topic that you'd like someoneto tell you about you can submit it via email by clicking HERE You will not receive a reply, but all topics will be considered.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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